The Function and Reason Behind your Procrastination
I am a serial procrastinator.
I have been very successful in my career. I am currently attending a programme to pave my way into my own business, but I don’t follow through. I don’t post or make a video to become visible. Suddenly I have all other things to do (though I don’t need to) like washing clothes, organising club meetings or talking to my adult kids and solving their problems. This behaviour can go on for days and weeks.
What makes me do this? I think something in my head prevents me from working on my tasks. Something in my head blocks me and I don’t know what it is.
I feel so guilty about procrastinating and at the same time I feel relieved that I do not need to expose myself. Can you help?
Know that you’re not alone with it. Procrastinating is actually quite common among humans. No need to feel guilty. But your question isn’t actually about guilt; it’s about the behaviour that provokes it — why you want to create something for yourself, yet get so uncomfortable when you have to expose yourself and your idea that you don’t post.
You speak about that something in your head is blocking you.
There are several reasons, behavioural and psychological ones, that can explain such a mental block.
Washing clothes, organising club meetings etc. have one function in common: Escape the adverse situation. And feeling a relief by avoiding it, reinforces your procrastination. “Yeah I am free!” And I believe that the host of the programme isn’t penalising you for not following through.
While this explains the function of your behaviour, it does not explain the source of your avoidance. You write that you decided to work for yourself and invested into a programme and yet you choose to attend to tasks of others and not yours.
This emotional conflict about posting - it often has to do with your underlying self-definition, your basic sense of who you believe yourself to be. Common thoughts are “Am I good/talented/skilled enough?” “What if it won’t work?” “What if people reject me?”
Most humans have such thoughts. In our childhood and adolescence we had bad experiences that felt horrible and anxious and we had little to do about it. Those experiences formed a definition about ourselves.
From there we went into higher education and start a career path. That’s when we realise that we have strong skills, and that bad things rarely happen and if they happen we are able to cope with them. And you mentioned that you are very successful in your career. I guess you gained skills that prompted you to start your business.
Transitioning from working for someone else to working for yourself with full accountability, is quite unpredictable and unfamiliar. Often in such situations our default emotional reactions we developed in childhood and adolescence surface despite the changes and growth we developed. We avoid experiencing failure and stay in safe mode.
These discrepancies usually mean that our underlying self-definition has not fully incorporated our adult realities into our sense of self.
What Can you do to Overcome the Underlying Source of your Procrastination?
Update your self identity programme. This means acknowledging that you are not the child of the past anymore, but an adult who has newer strengths and capabilities.
Here’s what I suggest.
Remind yourself of the greater why of your business. Do you want to help others in a specific skill and capability that you are strong in? Do you want to provide this safe learning space for others? I assume you say yes. So every time your child self wants to avoid posting and feels overwhelmed, remind yourself of your why and your skills.
This inner voice may say: “Don’t do this. People will see you as a fraud.” or “Leave it. You will fail!” or “You are narcissistic posting about yourself.”
And your adult self may respond: “I hear you. It is possible that I will fail, but the probability is very low. In such a case I use the outcome as a feedback to learn from it and enhance my skills and capabilities.” Or “That’s a good point. But now I choose to work on my business because it is not only about me, but all the people who will benefit from my skills as did my previous employer.”
Most importantly inform your inner voice about all your skills your adult self has. Better list them in a journal and choose one skill every day and write an abstract about how this skill has shown up at work and life. This will prove to your subconscious mind that you indeed have skills as an adult now. If you want to take it a step further you can rewrite the narrative of your life. Write about all the ways you matured and developed and overcame challenges that contrasts any of your fears and doubts.
With the BrainBoss Method you will be able to update your self identity on the fast lane. Together we will go back to events in your childhood and adolescence in which you learnt the first self concepts about yourself. You will be able to change the programming from the source and replace it with more supportive thoughts and behaviour. This will allow you to create different outcomes and new learning in your life. How? New beliefs about yourself will allow you to behave differently from your default actions.
There is hope for your procrastination. Updating your sense of identity by acknowledging your skills and capabilities will reduce your anxiety, which in turn will reduce your avoidance behaviour… releasing the block in your head so that you contribute something important to the world: Your skills and strengths.
Interested? Let’s work together.
Are you facing a moment of transition, are self-sabotage, crippling procrastination or perfectionism preventing your success or are you are a stressed-out "achievement junkie"?
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